I was just reading the beautiful letter Scholastic's President and CEO, Richard Robinson, wrote to educators, and I wanted to write my own as well before I rested for a while.
This is a pivotal time in education-- an invigorating crossroads where your passion and dedication can make a profound difference in the lives of your students. There are misconceptions about Common Core circulating online like wildfire, and an immense amount of pressure is resting on the shoulders of many educators. Messages are being conveyed through the media that educators are not doing enough to engage or challenge students to their potential. So many teachers have been discouraged because of merit pay, limited resources, being told "no", having to cancel events because of a "stringent" focus on "learning", crammed schedules, an intense focus on documentation and remediation, and those who have defaced the name of "educator" by engaging in illegal activities, taking advantage of working with impressionable minds that shape the future daily.
As discouraging as that sounds, though, our students have access to phenomenal resources the learners of a decade ago did not even have access to. Classrooms are becoming more and more inquiry-driven, and educators are working harder than ever to incorporate a greater variation of resources to activate and enhance schema. Though there are educators out there who are discouraged, there are many who are maintaining the most optimistic outlook possible. I hope you know there are incredible people out there whom you can network with if you do not feel encouraged.
This week and EVERY week--
1. Know that if you are exerting your best, you are doing just fine. Remember, we can only exert so much before burning out.
2. Tell your students how much you appreciate them, too. I am going to tell my students this week is "Student Appreciation Week" as much as it is "Teacher Appreciation Week" because we are a synergistic "classroom family".
3. There are so many people who appreciate educators out there-- as much as you hear the naysayers trying to say we are not doing enough to invigorate learning.
4. Realize that if you have merely touched ONE student's life in your years as an educator, every day has been COMPLETELY worth it. One. Life. I have taught over two-hundred students, yet it matters if I have even touched one of those lives. Never feel your days were misspent.
5. Even if your students are not telling you now that they appreciate you, they may in ten years or more. I realized how much of an impact I still had in some of my students' lives when they graduated from high school last year. (They were my very first fourth grade students, so it was an emotional and beautiful time.)
6. Remember, you will have weak moments, experience shortcomings, and encounter discouraging times. Exhaustion will overtake you from time to time, but... it's okay. You are human.
7. The words you say in your classroom impact your students every single day-- one way or another. If you set forth to inspire your students, it is very likely your words have inspired at least one of them.
8. Understand whether you are in your first year, first few years, first decade, second decade, or in at least your third decade of teaching, every day is a learning process and you grow every year.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week-- though you deserve to feel honored and appreciated every day in this sensational occupation. You are respected, held in high regard, and loved.